Requiem for a Dream (2000)

“Anybody wanna waste some time?”

Cast:  Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto and Jennifer Connelly

Based upon the novel written by Hubert Selby Jr. Requiem for a Dream focuses on the addictions of 4 different people, who are all intricately linked bringing the piece together beautifully.

It’s not an easy watch; there were a few times that I questioned why I was watching, but I just couldn’t turn away. The gravity of the film can’t really be compared to anything else, yet neither can the actual story. In a general sense the film is about forms of addiction, yet there are so many deeper meanings and messages that can be drawn from it depending on what type of person you are.

Requiem for a Dream basically follows the lives of a group of people that live in Coney Island, Brooklyn. A lonely widowed mother (Ellen Burstyn), her son Harry (Jared Leto), his girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly) and his best friend Tyrone (Marlon Wayans).

Whatever the reasons may be, each has a different addiction that brutally rules their lives, no matter how hard they try to turn away from it, it seems impossible and eventually leads to over-indulgence on everyone’s part.

The cast is superb. Leto has never played a better part. Though his minor roles in Fight Club and American Psycho introduced him to film, he shines most brilliantly in his lead role for Requiem, where he plays a heroin addict.

Burstyn was easily cheated out of an Oscar for her performance, of which she was nominated for Best Actress (and lost out to Julia Roberts for her role in Erin Brockovich). There are times in the film where you find yourself doubting whether it is actually her on screen. She really immerses herself in the role and this is evident by the way she so convincingly pulls of the part of a diet-pill/ sedative addict.

Connelly and Wayans are great too. Although more in the roles of supporting actors, they really do deliver an equally hard-hitting performance. Both of their characters are dealing with heroin addictions, like Harry, and eventually join the drug trade to become financially better off. Yet each character has to face the consequences of their addictions, and it’s the realisation of this on film that made it hard to watch.

The characters are all striving for their own definition of happiness, whether it be money, family, employment or fame. With their addictions though, each is on a downward spiral and becoming increasingly lost in their own eccentric worlds, yet continuing to strive for what they believe happiness truly is, supported by their drug habits.

The ending of the film was frightening and tragic. It pulled at my heartstrings and is one of the realest endings to a film I have ever seen. The grittiness and harshness of the film only add to the depth, and by no means is it flawless, but this is why it works so well.

Aronofsky again does a fantastic job in his role as director. Having only done one film prior to Requiem, which was Pi, he really does establish his mark in the industry. With fantastic cinematography, sound and editing, he really knows how to dazzle an audience. Since he has directed The Wrestler and Black Swan, both which were very positively received.

Requiem for a Dream will not be to everyone’s taste. It’s a serious and raw depiction of the effects of drug addiction, and the realest I’ve seen to date. It shows the unforgiving nature of life and will leave you with something to think about.

Star rating:  9.5/10

Director Darren Aronofsky.

Running time 101 minutes.

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